McCarron, Receivers Have Good Chemistry

Fall camp ended with Saturday's scrimmage at Alabama. Another milestone is Wednesday when classes begin at The University. A number of Crimson Tide players got quality academic work done in summer school. And a special group is ahead of the game in its chemistry.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban pointed out that the start of classes is "a really important thing. That's why these guys come to school here, to get an education, so we want to get a strong start academically." He said that 40 players came out of summer school with a 3.0 (B) or better grade point average.

"Now," said Saban, "we have to create some balance with our show the maturity to focus on what they have to do to succeed academically, and then when they come over here they have to focus on what they have to do to prepare to play successfully."

There's a different kind of chemistry on the football practice field than in The University laboratories. Saban is also pleased with what he sees in the chemistry between quarterback A.J. McCarron and the Crimson Tide receiving corps.

How good?

"I think we probably have the best chemistry that we've had for a long time between the quarterback and receivers," Saban said. "AJ is really a good leader. AJ's one of those guys that knows what everybody's supposed to do on every play.

"We ran a draw in the scrimmage and (offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio) missed his block. AJ said to Cyrus, ‘If you make that block, that would have been out the gate.' He knows who is supposed to block everybody; he knows who is supposed to block everybody on every pass pick-up and protection.

"He knows how the guys are supposed to run the routes and what the depth is supposed to be and when they don't do it the right way.

"He's been very positive, has been very encouraging to the young guys. I think because of the way he competes and the way he plays, the sort of perfectionist that he is at his position I think that's really enhanced the quality of performance at receiver in terms of how those guys work every day. The chemistry is really good between those guys."

McCarron, a 6-4, 210-pound upcoming junior who will be starting for the second year, made great strides last year, from rookie quarterback to the Most Valuable Offensive Player in the BCS National Championship Game as he led the Tide to a 21-0 win over LSU and the national title.

The Mobile native said that the chemistry with his quarterbacks this year compared to fall camp a year ago "is a different situation. I think every year is a different situation."

He pointed to the obvious. "Last year I was the young one looking up to the older guys, and now I have some younger guys and I'm the older guy.

"There's a little more talking on my part and them listening. It was vice versa last year. They told me what they thought and I agreed with it, or said, ‘Okay, we'll try.'

"Now it's kind of like if I see it, we're going to go with it.

"Our chemistry has definitely grown a bunch.

"We have a good group of receivers on and off the field, and that's the biggest thing for me. I like going out and working with these guys. They have great attitudes every day and they want to practice and want to get better."

McCarron said that communication, and particularly communication when he's changing the play with an audible, is important and said that Saban has "allowed me and the offensive coordinator to do more things. I'm able to check at the line a lot more. If I see something, I can get us out of it most of the time.

"When you're changing plays at the line you have to have good chemistry between everybody, all 11 guys on offense. Communication has to be there and I feel like our offense has done a great job of that.

"It's helped in practice because we see so much from our own defense. Sometimes they get us and sometimes we get them. That's just the way it works."

McCarron isn't depending on one "go to" receiver. That's partly because, he said, "We have a really good group of receivers. All the guys can run. All the guys can make plays."

It's also because sometimes he can't go to the man he might like to. "The defense may not be set up where you can go to him," McCarron said. "It doesn't matter. There are guys here to play college football. They're here because they're able to make plays. If the read goes to them, we have to make the play. It doesn't matter if my favorite receiver or whoever it is is on that side, if it comes to them we have to make plays and move the chains."

A university has more than Chemistry, of course. For instance, there is Finance.

McCarron may be thinking about that in a little over a week. The men who enable him to do so much on the football field are on Bama's offensive line. On Thursday before Alabama opens the season against Michigan on Sept. 1 at Arlington, Texas, McCarron will take that crew of 300-pounders to dinner.

"I'm really not looking forward to the bill," McCarron said. "It's going to be painful."

He lets the linemen choose the restaurant.

"One time we go to Kobe, sometimes we go to Bob Baumhower's Wings U. Wherever they feel like.

"I'm just glad we don't have a Ruth's Chris around here."

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